Dinner Party

it was a beautiful much needed evening, I had a few of my girls over for dinner when Lucas was away with daddy at his summer place. Eventhough it was hard to say bye to Lucas when they left, I can say it did good for me to just focus on something else other than the baby and allow my mind and body to fully rest. I decided to have a good old fashioned dinner party of four courses. We enjoyed some cocktails, miraval rose and bubbly while chatting away as they evening descended. What a lovely evening.

Find the recipe for the starter from here.

Persian Fritata

Kuku or Kookoo is a traditional egg based Persian dish that is healthy and delicious packed with a variety of herbs. The dish compares to a frittata, not an omelette as the ratio to filling is more than eggs itself. You can play around with the herbs you like, the taste is light and airy and once you make it, you will do it again! 

Ingredients for Kuku Sabzi

  • 2 bunches fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 1bunch dill, finely chopped
  • ½bunch mint, finely chopped
  • 1spring onion, chopped
  • Small handful (about 2 oz) fresh spinach, finely chopped
  • 2garlic clove finely chopped
  • 3-4eggs, beaten
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • Zest of 1 lime
  • 1 tbsp flour (generous tbsp)
  • Pinch of baking powder
  • Pinch of salt &Ground black pepper
  • 4tablespoonsolive oil

Yogurt sauce

  • ½ cup yogurt
  • 2 garlic cloves grated

Toppings

  • Crushed walnuts
  • pomegranate
  • Barberries (or dried cranberries)
  • Serve with flat bread (optional)

 

Directions

 

In a bowl, mix in all the ingredients and beat well. Add in the salt and pepper. In about a 20cm nonstick pan (about 8 inches) add the olive oil over medium heat. Pour in the mixture and cook on medium-low heat for about 10 minutes.

With the help of a knife, gently cut the kuku into 4 wedges. Then gently turn each slices over to brown on the other side. If necessary, add a little butter or oil in the pan.

Meanwhile, mix the yogurt and grated garlic together and serve it on the side. Top the kuku sabzi with crushed walnuts, pomegranate and barberries on top.

With Easter on its way, kuku sabzi is an intriguing traditional dish to bring people together. Its vibrant green color will spruce up a brunch table bringing a set of culture together.  With symbolizing rebirth and fresh starts in a way, it is fragrantly delicious and appropriate as spring sets into bloom.

Easter Treat & Porvoo

Easter has been relaxing and beautifully sunny here in Helsinki. We took a day trip to Porvoo, strolled around the old town, had lunch and coffee at a cute little restaurant. We have spent a lot of time outdoors basking in the sunshine. I wanted to share this 10 minute asparagus pie recipe with you all, that we have been making almost every morning this easter.

You need ready rectangle sheets of puff pastry, some cream cheese, spring asparagus and egg wash. Basically, cut the puff pastries into squares, scar a smaller square in the centre of your pastry, as seen in the image below. Do not cut all the way through however. Spread some cream cheese (that is mixed with herbs) into the square. Add asparagus on top. Wash the sides with egg and place into a hot oven of 200 degrees Celsius for 10 minutes. Once they come from the oven, add a sprinkling of Malden salt and eat warm.

The asparagus tarts come out golden tasting lovely and gooey in the middle with beautiful spring flavours from the herbs and asparagus.

Nordic twist White Fish Tartar

 

White fish Spring Appetiser 

Last Friday it was the first time my hubby and I went for dinner just the two of us while little L was taken care of, back home. One of the dishes at the restaurant was cured white fish dish that had a mix of different components from passionfruit to ponzu and a tarragon oil around it all. It was sweet and fresh, the shiso leaves added a new dimension and together the flavours were heavenly. The dish was so good, we tried to re-create it back home and it turned out amazing. I wanted to share this recipe with you all, so you can enjoy it too. We purchased the “siika” (white fish in Finnish) already cured, but of course, this process can be done at home too if you prepare in advance. For my international followers, if you do not find cured white fish and do not wish to do it yourself, this would work with fresh salmon too, sashimi style. The cured process cooks the fish with salt and sugar and adds a lovely salty flavour to it.

Ingredients 

  • cured white fish (graavattu siika in Finnish) slices
  • shiso leaves
  • tiny bit of cucumber
  • tiny bit of paprika
  • fresh tarragon
  • olive oil
  • green/rosé pepper
  • passionfruit
  • ponzu sauce ( we used a lemon flavoured ponzu sauce)

Directions

Begin by making the tarragon oil. In a blender mix together fresh tarragon leaves, lime juice and olive oil. For my international followers, cured fish is a nordic concept- where raw fish is cooked with sugar and salt overnight in the fridge. In Scandinavia, you can buy ready slices of cured fish in all super markets, but these are best bought from fish stores, for the freshest of flavours. If you cannot find this white fish called siika, cured salmon will also do. The cured white fish we used was flavoured with dill and rosé pepper bought from the market hall.

This dish is really easy to make, it looks beautiful and the components work great together. This dish is inspired from a restaurant we went to last Friday and tried testing it at home. My husband and I were both impressed how amazing it turned out and it honestly has become one of our favourite appetizers. So the only thing you need to do for this dish, is to make the oil and sugar the cucumber, the rest is all about plating.

At this point, cut tiny little slithers of (about 1.5cm long) green paprika (only using the skin part) that is used for garnishing. The skin has a tangy flavour to it and works well with the fish. Also cut similar pieces of cucumber flesh and place into a little bowl of water with a pinch sugar. Leave the cucumber to marinate for about 15 min or some.

Ready to plate: Place the cured fish slices into a little wreath shape in the centre of your plate. Add the paprika and cucumber in little nooks of the fish so it looks pretty. Pour some ponzu sauce in the middle of the wreath. Add the tarragon oil on the outer part of the wreath. Scoop some passionfruit into the centre and on top of the fish. Add shiso leaves on top of the fish and sprinkle with any desired pepper.

Lemon Gingerbread cookies

 

‘Lemon gingerbread cookies on the night before Christmas’

Since we still have our Christmas tree up, is it ok to bake gingerbread cookies? For the first time this year ( I have no idea why I have not before) made my own gingerbread cookie dough. It literally was the easiest thing ever and I added some lemon zest to add a bit of zing, and it was an addition I will be adding every year. I also like that when you make your own dough, you can make just a small batch as I prefer baking only 1 baking tray full of cookies. I also dipped the finished cookies into melted daim- chocolate, which added that special taste to them. I baked these cookies the day before Christmas Eve and I loved how it made the kitchen smell of sweet festive spices. That day we took a forrest walk with our little family and had some hot glögi and cookies with us to get into the spirit of the following day. I wanted to write this recipe down more for myself, as I will be making this every year as a little new tradition of ours. I can’t wait to bake these cookies with our little boy once he is old enough.

Ingredients ( 1 baking tray)

  • 1/2 dl syrup
  • 1/2 dl sugar
  • 75g butter
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground Cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon gingerbread spice
  • 1 egg
  • 2-3 dl flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

Directions

Boil the butter, sugar, lemon zest, syrup and spices in a saucepan. Cool the mixture. Add in the egg. Add the flour and baking soda. Mix into an even batter. However, do not over mix the batter as this keeps the cookies crisp. If the batter seems too dry, you can add a little bit more melted butter. Place the batter into the fridge for overnight.

The following day, roll the batter out and use your cookie cutters to create shapes. Make sure to use plenty of flour so it does not stick to your surface. Place the raw cookies onto a parchment paper lined baking tray and bake in 200 Celsius degrees for about 5-8 minutes. Leave to cool on a rack and dip a corner of the cookie into some melted chocolate. I used daim-flavoured chocolate that I melted in a bowl over boiling water. Lastly I dusted the cookies with a coating of icing sugar.

 

Savoury Christmas Treat & Cardamom Cocktail

‘ Shrimp toast and a cardamom gin cocktail as a Christmas movie snack’

Christmas is the time when you eat savoury and sweet, one after the other to satisfy all your taste buds. Even though I love to bake and cook sweet things, I much prefer eating savoury over any given day. This very typical sweet rye bread combined with some form of shrimp paste and/or cured salmon is something us nordics love to eat. I added the runny egg on top as I personally just love the combination together. My husband and I had these toasts yesterday when we watched a Christmas movie. I love that he has been home so much now as he is on daddy leave combined with some holidays, so we are trying to make the most of enjoying this time together with our baby. We also enjoyed a light cocktail each made from cardamom, grapefruit and gin. I cannot believe it is only two more nights until Christmas Eve. I just made some gingerbread cookie dough into the fridge that I will be baking in the morning as we will have a little picnic in the forest tomorrow. Let’s start with making the cocktail-

Cardamom gin cocktail

  • 2 oz Heindrick’s Gin
  • 1 oz grapefruit juice ( I used fresh juice)
  • 1 oz lemon juice
  • 1/2 oz syrup
  • 1 cardamom pod
  • Rosemary/ Seabuck thorn/dried apple to garnish

Toast a cardamom pod on a dry pan to intensify it’s flavour. Put the pod in a cocktail shaker and gently crush it. Give it just enough pressure to crack the pod and a few of the inner seeds. Add the rest of the ingredients and shake well with ice. Strain into a glass and garnish with sea buck thorn and a twig of rosemary.

 

Shrimp Paste 

  • 1 cup chopped shrimp
  • 1/2 cup creme fraiche
  • 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon lemon
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • pinch of salt
  • ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon chopped dill
  • 1 tablespoon chopped capers
  • 1 tablespoon chopped red onion
  • thyme twigs

Mix everything together in a bowl to make a delicious shrimp paste

Remaining ingredients for the toast

  •  few slices of Cold smoked salmon
  • 2 slices rye bread
  • 7 minute cooked egg (runny yolk)
  • ground green pepper
  • toasted walnuts

 

Christmas Date Cake

Dates are the perfect sweet ingredient for a winter kitchen. The natural sweetener makes a great base for cakes, salads, jams, smoothies, sauces, breads and gives that lovely rich intensive caramel taste. I’ve done date coffee-style cakes every winter and since it is only three nights until Christmas, it was about time to make one. The sticky juicy cake was topped with a cream cheese icing and some macarons but the cake is great just on its own. I love to have it with a cup of tea or an espresso as a little pick me during the day. I enjoyed some while wrapping the last of the gifts and organising some last things that we have to do before winding down for the big day.

 

Date cake ingredients

  • 250g dates (pit removed)
  • 2dl sugar
  • 2dl water
  • 200g butter
  • 1 egg
  • 3 1/2dl flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla sugar

cake tin

  • butter
  • bread crumb- flour

toppings

  • 1 cup icing sugar
  • 1/4 cup tablespoons melted butter
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1 tablespoon cream cheese
  • macarons

Directions

Deseed and cut the dates into a saucepan and cook on medium heat . Add the sugar and water. Let the dates cook until soft and mushy for about 10 minutes. Add in the butter and allow to melt into the dates.

Allow the dates to cool a little and add in the egg. Add in the dry ingredients. Butter and flour the cake tin, then pour the date mixture into the cake tin. Place the cake tin into the oven ( 175 degrees Celsius) onto the lower level for 45 minutes. Check that the cake is ready by pressing a tooth pick into the mixture, if it comes out dry, it is ready. However, do not overcook the mixture and allow it to cool before tipping it over onto a cooling rack.

To make the icing, melt some butter and mix in with the icing sugar. Mix in some cream cheese and a splash of milk. Pour the frosting over the date cake and garnish with macarons. If the consistency seems too dry, add more milk or butter and if the consistency seems too wet, add more sugar.

Pour the icing over the cooled date cake and garnish with a few macarons. Sieve on some icing sugar.

Winter smoothie

Today is the darkest day of the year and it feels only natural to start the day with a vitamin filled smoothie. I try to pack in the fruit and vegetable through liquid form to ensure I get enough nutrients throughout the day, now that my time is limited with a little baby. Thus, smoothies are great additives to a diet that are quick and easy to make. Since we will be enjoying a delicious but heavy Christmas meal in just three days, a refreshing smoothie is the best way to start the day. My husband and I both love this combination of ingredients and the rich purple colour is appropriate for this festive season.

Winter smoothie

  • 1 cup milk of choice
  • 2 celery stalks
  • 1 banana
  • 1/2 cup frozen blueberries
  • 1 orange
  • about 5-7 walnuts
  • pinch of cardamum

Blend everything together and drink immidiatly 

 

Christmas coffee & Pine wreath

I usually prefer a simple good quality cappuccino in the morning without any sweetness but during the Christmas season it is nice to spruce up the coffee once in a while. This maple latte also makes a great afternoon pick-me-up if you have a little sweet tooth craving and elevates your cappuccino in a matter of minutes. While hubby has looking after our little one, I quickly made a little wreath and enjoyed it over Christmas music and this smoothing coffee, which is super delicious. Cardamom is one of my favourite spices during this time of year, which I would say the entire Scandinavia agrees on.

I actually found the twigs for the base of wreath on my morning walk with Siena who happen to be chewing on them. I noticed how durable and bendy they were that I snatched a few to take home with me. You basically bend them into a circle and attach the ends together with floral wire. I took some pine twigs and little white berries from the forest and simply attached them to the base with more floral wire. It is really as simple as that. This little wreaths make great decorations on top of gifts or simple around the house to bring a little of nature inside. I think, wreaths are perhaps the finest Christmas decorations. A little evergreen in Christmas time is a must. 

Maple Cardamom latte (serves 2)

  • 1 1/2 cups cashew milk (or any milk of choice)
  • pinch of ground cardamom
  • 1 Tablespoon almond butter
  • pinch of vanilla paste (or extract)
  • 1 tablespoon of pure maple syrup
  • 2 good quality espresso
  • toasted almond flakes
  • pinch of cinnamon for topping

Directions

In a saucepan combine the milk, cardamom, almond butter, vanilla and maple syrup. Bring to a high simmer over medium heat. Transfer the milk to a blender and blitz until smooth and frothy. Top the milk on top of your espresso. Garnish with toasted almond flakes and a sprinkling of cinnamon.

Christmas Pomegranate Pavlova

‘cosy candlelight mornings & early hour baking of a Pomegranate Pavlova’ 

A traditional pavlova really sets the mood during Christmas time, so I decided to whip one up for this Sunday. For the past few weeks my hubby and I have been had a nasty stomach bug, which has drained our energy to the maximum with a baby under one month, but now we are both feeling much better. It means it is time to get back into the holiday spirit as it is only a few weeks until Christmas Eve. My hyacinths are starting to bloom in the kitchen, our little baby has grown 3cm since our last checkup and I’ve made one wreath from pines and white berries. The tree is still as beautiful as ever and we have managed to watch one Christmas movie thus far. I started whipping up the egg whites before 7am while the baby was sleeping and managed to snap a few photos even though it was really dark outside still. I find baking early morning such a pleasant activity, I enjoy a freshly brewed coffee with a little bit of me time (so rare lately) and appreciate all the little Christmas ornaments around the house. When the pavlova was set in the oven, our little elf woke up as well and after a nursing session my boys enjoyed a slow morning in bed with some cuddles. My brother and his wife bought the little one a cutest elf hat from a countryside village that was just the cutest visual ever. The weather is miserable today, foggy, slippery and dark so it’s time to cosy up indoors with some candle light.

In this elegant dessert, a crisp thin layered meringue layer is filled with homemade pomegranate sauce, greek yogurt and toasted almonds. The greek yogurt may not be a traditional topping for a pavlova, but trust me, the tanginess works against the sweetness of the meringue. To keep the meringue from being flat and grainy, try beating egg whites until stiff but not dry. Over-beaten eggs easily lose volume when folded with other ingredients. Also, when adding in the sugar, add it one tablespoon at a time mixing well continuously. Then, you beat the meringue until thin and glossy that is easily shipped into a dome on your parchment paper that is placed into the oven. A pavlova cooks for about an hour and takes about 2 hours in total to make even though it is not much work.

Ingredients for pavlova

  • 4 egg whites
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup greek yogurt (topping)
  • handful of almond flakes (topping)

Pomegranate Sauce

  • 1 pomegranate
  • 3 tablespoons blackcurrant jam
  • 1-2 teaspoon sugar

Directions

Preheat oven to 140 degrees celcius. Line a baking tray with parchment paper. In a large bowl, add in the egg whites. Beat them with an electric whisk until stiff, but not dry. Gradually add in the sugar, beating well after each addition. Beat until thick and glossy. Fold in the vanilla extract, cornstarch and lemon juice.

Spoon the mixture onto your parchment paper. With this quantity, you make two smaller ones or one large one. I made two smaller ones, shaped like a dome. Bake for 1 hour and cool on a wire rack.

 

To make the toppings: 

Sauté some almond flakes on a dry pan with a pinch of salt. Cook until slightly golden and remove to the side to cool.

To make the pomegranate sauce, deseed 1 pomegranate and keep the juices. Place this into a small saucepan and cook on medium-heat. Add a teaspoon of sugar and 3 tablespoons of blackcurrant jam. Cook gently for about 10 minutes until everything has incorporated. Remove to the side to cool.

Once the meringue has cooled. Add some greek yogurt on top, some pomegranate sauce and a topping of the almond flakes. Do not be alarmed if the dome cracks, it usually does as the toppings are much heavier.